Free-Range Chicken Gardens: How to Create a Beautiful, Chicken-Friendly Yard Info

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“If your garden fantasies involve chickens, Jessi
Bloom is here to make those dreams come true.” —The New
York Times


Many gardeners fear chickens will peck
away at their landscape. But you can keep chickens and have a beautiful
garden, too! In this essential handbook, award-winning garden designer
Jessi Bloom offers step-by-step instructions for creating a
beautiful and functional space while maintaining a happy, healthy
flock. Free-Range Chicken Gardens covers everything a
gardener needs to know, from the basics of chicken keeping and creating
the perfect chicken-friendly garden design to building innovative
coops.
 


Average Ratings and Reviews
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Reviews for Free-Range Chicken Gardens: How to Create a Beautiful, Chicken-Friendly Yard:

5

Jul 26, 2012

I count myself among those ladies of a certain age who fantasize about opening my back door to a lush, charmingly mussy garden fertilized, grubbed, weeded, and tilled by several friendly yet slightly odd hens. So truly this book is habit-forming. The photos are a drug; I can't stop looking at them. The text is enlightening and raises many interesting points about living with chickens that I would not have considered. It was very hard to return this book to the library, and now only the thin blue I count myself among those ladies of a certain age who fantasize about opening my back door to a lush, charmingly mussy garden fertilized, grubbed, weeded, and tilled by several friendly yet slightly odd hens. So truly this book is habit-forming. The photos are a drug; I can't stop looking at them. The text is enlightening and raises many interesting points about living with chickens that I would not have considered. It was very hard to return this book to the library, and now only the thin blue line of municipal ordinances lies between me and my garden poultry daydreams. ...more
4

May 06, 2012

This is my dream chicken book. I know it's a little crazy that I even have a dream chicken book, but this is it. In all the years I have been wanting to get chickens, this book describes exactly the way I envisioned raising them. Although I am still a long way from making that vision become a reality, this book helped me define that vision more clearly and create more specific plans for the future. It was absolutely inspiring for me.
4

Apr 21, 2012

A great book for ideas about having chickens as an integral part of your backyard. Lots of ideas and specific plant reccmmendations, as well as information on coops and general chicken care. The photographs are gorgeous. It's worth reading just to look at the chickens free ranging in beautiful gardens. If you're looking to add chickens to your backyard, this is a really great resource. I'll definitely be going back into my copy as we get ready for our chicks to arrive.
5

Dec 30, 2013

The title says it all. This book is for backyard chicken owners who want to also grow veggies and plants. Very well written and informative. If you want a book only about raising chickens then I recommend storey's guide to raising chickens by Gail damerov
4

Jun 02, 2013

This was fun to read and has lots of great photos. Even though I have an established garden and flock, I learned things. I think we'll be implementing depth composting in our coop, and we need a garden mirror to entertain the girls.
4

May 17, 2014

Throughout several years of the 1990s and early 2000s, we kept a flock of chickens in our suburban backyard. They were never completely free-range, although we did let them out of their pen almost every day and they lived for those hours!

Chickens are actually quite interesting creatures, unlike the stereotypes of them. They have personalities and curiosity and they can be companionable and affectionate if allowed to be. I had grown up on a farm and taking care of the chickens was my job when I Throughout several years of the 1990s and early 2000s, we kept a flock of chickens in our suburban backyard. They were never completely free-range, although we did let them out of their pen almost every day and they lived for those hours!

Chickens are actually quite interesting creatures, unlike the stereotypes of them. They have personalities and curiosity and they can be companionable and affectionate if allowed to be. I had grown up on a farm and taking care of the chickens was my job when I was little. I learned to enjoy them early in life and I was delighted to have them back in my life during those years.

We finally gave up on keeping chickens because of the predator problem in our neighborhood. It was a constant and often losing battle to keep our charges safe. So, the first thing that anyone considering the option of keeping chickens needs to know is this: YOU MUST HAVE A PREDATOR-PROOF COOP AND/OR PEN TO KEEP THE BIRDS SAFE AT NIGHT! Otherwise your chicken project will end in heartache, because everybody likes chicken and the world is not a safe place for an unprotected hen.

This book covers all the basics of keeping chickens safe and happy. The author writes of the space requirements for chickens, the necessities for a coop that will be chicken-friendly, and some designs for those coops. But most of the book is taken up with gardening with and for chickens.

Chickens, of course, love green stuff and they can be quite destructive in the garden if not handled properly, but it is actually possible to allow chickens at least limited "free" range and still maintain a beautiful garden. Jessi Bloom tells her readers how it is done. The reward is wonderful fresh eggs, as well as the companionship of interesting pets.

Bloom gives a list of plants that work best in a chicken-friendly garden and some that should be avoided. She is a garden designer and she offers her readers some simple garden plans that have been proven to work with chickens, along with step-by-step instructions for getting the chicken garden up and running.

Keeping backyard chickens in suburban and even urban settings has become a trend and often a cause-celebre in recent years. Around the country, neighbors are frequently banding together to legalize the keeping of poultry in situations where it is presently illegal, and, with the "slow food" movement and self-sufficiency becoming a more and more popular ideal, people see that chickens can be an essential part of that movement.

Those who are eager to become a part of the movement will find an essential guide in this well-organized handbook. It is an easy and quick read and the novice keeper of chickens can certainly refer to it often for information on how to provide the necessities for his/her birds. Best of all, it tells the chicken gardener how to make those birds extremely happy by allowing them free range and still be able to have a garden that one can be proud to show off to visitors. It is a very useful addition to the gardener's bookshelf. I only wish I had had it back in the 1990s.

(A free copy of this book was sent to me by the publisher in return for an honest review. No other compensation was provided. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own.)

...more
5

Jan 24, 2012

This is one of the coolest books I have had the privilege of reviewing. I love chickens. My son and I have conversations about getting chickens as soon as we swap our apartment for a real house. We had chickens when we lived out in the country. Our chickens lived in the barn and we weren’t great with the whole cute chicken design. I picture a perfect yard – well landscaped, beautiful vegetation, dreamy water fixtures with little wooden bridges dotted with chickens and other small farm animals. This is one of the coolest books I have had the privilege of reviewing. I love chickens. My son and I have conversations about getting chickens as soon as we swap our apartment for a real house. We had chickens when we lived out in the country. Our chickens lived in the barn and we weren’t great with the whole cute chicken design. I picture a perfect yard – well landscaped, beautiful vegetation, dreamy water fixtures with little wooden bridges dotted with chickens and other small farm animals. It’s a dream that can easily be made reality with this one book.
Jessi Bloom has written the perfect book – part gardening, part chicken raising and all amazing. It’s an easy to understand manual that breaks down all the parts of landscaping with chickens in mind. Her book focuses more on small yards than large farms which makes it great for anyone to use. She clearly lists the uses of plants and which to absolutely avoid. I can imagine it’s not all inclusive but extensive, nonetheless.
The book includes coop designs as well as yard designs for coop placement, chicken runs and garden plots. She discusses how to avoid disease with your chickens and your plants as well as how to add those plants that might not hold up to chicken abuse.
On top of all this amazing information, Jessi dots the book with beautiful photography of chickens, plants and a variety of dream inspiring odds and ends. I cannot wait to add this book to my library and start planning my dream yard.
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3

Apr 27, 2012

Beautiful pics and writing in this book about keeping chickens in your garden. I was a bit disappointed that the author turned out to be a landscape designer that considered the word "garden" as, well..."backyard or any other area around your house". I was hoping to learn about creating a happy relationship between my chickens and snap peas. Ah well, pretty good anyway.

The pics and stories are all from rich white people with professionally landscaped backyards (that look like they cost tens of Beautiful pics and writing in this book about keeping chickens in your garden. I was a bit disappointed that the author turned out to be a landscape designer that considered the word "garden" as, well..."backyard or any other area around your house". I was hoping to learn about creating a happy relationship between my chickens and snap peas. Ah well, pretty good anyway.

The pics and stories are all from rich white people with professionally landscaped backyards (that look like they cost tens of thousands of dollars to create), but there's a tidbit here and there for us regular folks.

Pretty good overall, but glad I got it from the library instead of purchasing. ...more
4

Mar 27, 2017

Okay, normally I don't review reference books, but I actually read this one cover-to-cover.

...Mostly because I left it in the bathroom. DON'T JUDGE ME.

This is a pretty solid book, but I really wish a lot of the information about chickens "in general" had been stripped out. Like, overviews of breeds and health and such. That kind of information can be found anywhere, I wanted this book to be more purely focused on plants and gardens through a lens of chickens. That said, it has gorgeous photos Okay, normally I don't review reference books, but I actually read this one cover-to-cover.

...Mostly because I left it in the bathroom. DON'T JUDGE ME.

This is a pretty solid book, but I really wish a lot of the information about chickens "in general" had been stripped out. Like, overviews of breeds and health and such. That kind of information can be found anywhere, I wanted this book to be more purely focused on plants and gardens through a lens of chickens. That said, it has gorgeous photos that provide lots of inspiration, plus some solid gardening advice once you wade through the generalist fluff. ...more
3

Feb 01, 2012

I'm thoroughly torn about how to rate Free-Range Chicken Gardens. The photos are worthy of five stars (if not more), but the text is not my cup of tea.

The author wasn't writing for homesteaders, but for people with ornamental gardens who want to enjoy watching chickens wander through their non-edibles. So --- if you're a homesteader hoping that this book will help you mix chickens in with your tomatoes, you'll be sorely disappointed. But if you just like looking at pretty pictures, or want to I'm thoroughly torn about how to rate Free-Range Chicken Gardens. The photos are worthy of five stars (if not more), but the text is not my cup of tea.

The author wasn't writing for homesteaders, but for people with ornamental gardens who want to enjoy watching chickens wander through their non-edibles. So --- if you're a homesteader hoping that this book will help you mix chickens in with your tomatoes, you'll be sorely disappointed. But if you just like looking at pretty pictures, or want to mix chickens into an ornamental landscaping project, this book might be for you, as long as you like magazine-style writing. ...more
2

Sep 26, 2013

Yes I have chickens. :) I liked this book for the pretty pictures. Not really a alot I could use though since I'm not urban living.
5

December 13, 2017

A handy book! Great pictures and very practical tips on incorporating chickens into the garden. My hens won the war last year with my veggie and flower garden, but I'm determined that we can all learn to co-exist.
4

Nov 03, 2019

Neither a primer on gardening, nor an exhaustive primer on chickens, it nevertheless is a worthwhile read if you'd like to have chickens and want them to free-range in your yard. There are a lot of good ideas, it would be a good companion book to other books on the subjects. There are some parts that are poorly edited and/or poor sentence structure. I'm also not sure I loved the sense of organization.

It definitely made backyard chickens seem doable. And it excelled at specific plant suggestions Neither a primer on gardening, nor an exhaustive primer on chickens, it nevertheless is a worthwhile read if you'd like to have chickens and want them to free-range in your yard. There are a lot of good ideas, it would be a good companion book to other books on the subjects. There are some parts that are poorly edited and/or poor sentence structure. I'm also not sure I loved the sense of organization.

It definitely made backyard chickens seem doable. And it excelled at specific plant suggestions and plant-protection suggestions for your garden's and chickens' happiness. ...more
4

Jul 16, 2019

Good overview of the basic principles of keeping a healthy flock of chickens, particularly designing safe and functional spaces for your birds. Beautiful and concise, filled with stunning photos and lists of useful items and plants that will keep your flock healthy and happy. I would recommend additional reading material if you are really serious about keeping a flock, but this book is an easily digestible, quick read for the chicken novice.
5

Feb 12, 2019

It was very informative about gardening, plants, and chickens. I didn't think it was possible to keep many plants around chickens, but chickens love a plant filled yard! If you want to keep chickens you will need to read at least one other book, as this one focuses mainly on gardening.
5

Sep 01, 2019

Spectacular book. Answered every question I had about incorporating chickens into an already-established garden. Calmed a lot of fears about chickens eating the wrong things. Great on design, real-world advice. Beautiful pictures. Another win for Timber Press!
4

Nov 16, 2017

Clear pictures and helpful tips regarding plant types and placement to create a gorgeous chicken landscape. Would recommend to any new chicken owner or even someone looking to expand their chicken landscaping.
4

May 09, 2018

Nice read, helped me fix my chicken-ravaged backyard. Lots of detail both about plants, planning, lots, and chickens. The case histories are a nice touch. I love that it is indexed too!
4

Nov 22, 2016

Decent information source concerning chicken safe plantings plus layout ideas. Beautiful pictures and nicely organized. I borrowed it from my local library.
4

Feb 25, 2018

Lots of good ideas if you have a few chickens with lots of established plants, and are wanting to add new. My chickens didn't read this book, so razed the whole back yard.
3

Aug 12, 2015

As many reviewers have said, GORGEOUS pictures. I am glad to have signed this out from the library for the pictures alone. This is a good overall guide for raising backyard chickens in a suburban area, with lots of basic information about habitat, feeding, predators, fencing, and composting. It breezes over a lot of these topics, which is great for the beginner who "doesn't know what they don't know" and each topic could easily be researched further if desired. The writing style is casual, As many reviewers have said, GORGEOUS pictures. I am glad to have signed this out from the library for the pictures alone. This is a good overall guide for raising backyard chickens in a suburban area, with lots of basic information about habitat, feeding, predators, fencing, and composting. It breezes over a lot of these topics, which is great for the beginner who "doesn't know what they don't know" and each topic could easily be researched further if desired. The writing style is casual, approachable. The author also does a nice job of acknowledging that the definition of "free-range" can be a bit elastic, admitting that not every household will want their birds roaming freely at all times. She describes total free range, periodic free range, and coop-and-run systems, and is clear that all are acceptable to her.

However. Some of this seems totally unrealistic to me. As a full time worker, part time gardener who has struggled with chickens in my gardens for years, many of the things written here made me scoff. Perhaps with a bigger budget, a full time staff, or elves toiling in my garden.... For one, 'chickens may ocassionally dislodge dirt from around the base of perennials, endangering the root ball, and you should periodically inspect the area and scoop that dirt back.' Ha! In my world, chickens absolutely will create craters around one perennial after another if given free rein. It is impossible to keep up with them. For two, 'don't feed your chickens 'treats' from your garden, and they won't even find your edibles.' Hahahahahaha. They needed no help whatsoever to find my sugar snap peas the very day they ripened, long before I had ever given them any. Ditto strawberries. Ditto tomatoes. I am all for sharing the bounty, but they were on the move, hunting for deliciousness all day every day.

My solution has been a coop-and-run system with a few hours of free range time many afternoons. This has worked well for us, and my happy chickens have provided us with many eggs, reduced pest populations, and hours of enjoyment. ...more
4

Jan 05, 2012

This book is quite extensive in the information that it gives and it is perfect for any gardener who wants to bring chickens into their garden. There are beautiful photos of gardens with chickens, many plant pictures to illustrate the points that are made in this very useful book. This book displays the symbiotic relationship between chickens and gardens, if done properly, and how the two aspects of your backyard can benefit one another.

If you know of a gardener who has been toying with the This book is quite extensive in the information that it gives and it is perfect for any gardener who wants to bring chickens into their garden. There are beautiful photos of gardens with chickens, many plant pictures to illustrate the points that are made in this very useful book. This book displays the symbiotic relationship between chickens and gardens, if done properly, and how the two aspects of your backyard can benefit one another.

If you know of a gardener who has been toying with the idea of having chickens roaming around, this is the perfect book. Not only does it go into what types of gardens are chicken friendly, it also touches on the different types of chickens, which would be best for the purposes of the owner/gardener, but there are many useful tips about plants and garden design that will assist in creating the perfect habitat for your free-range chickens. Coop designs and elements necessary are also touched on, as well as natural habitats for the chickens. Plus the author touches lightly on plants that are harmful to chickens, as well as diseases and how to prevent a few of them.

I know that I will be purchasing this book, once I have a place to have both my own garden and a few chickens for those fresh eggs. There is plenty of information for the newbie chicken owner, and it does suppose some basic garden knowledge on the reader’s part, though does have a short section in the back in regards to the different ‘zones’ for gardening. This book has been well-researched and put together in a very pleasing manner.

Table of contents:
Chickens and gardens – working together
Chickens in your garden: practical considerations
Designing a Chicken-friendly garden
Landscape materials for chicken gardens
Plants with purpose
Innovative chicken housing
Friends and foes of hens in the garden

This book was provided by the publisher for an honest review.
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4

Apr 09, 2013

I only gave this book four stars because like several other reviewers, I am not an urban chicken owner. Where I live is very rural. Technically, I'm not even a chicken owner yet - just the promise of 8 or 10 older hens coming my way early this summer from a friend who has too many.

The book is great as far as some of the information it imparts about what plants NOT to expose your chickens to, however, it does seem to be for the well-to-do urban chicken owner who can afford to spend thousands I only gave this book four stars because like several other reviewers, I am not an urban chicken owner. Where I live is very rural. Technically, I'm not even a chicken owner yet - just the promise of 8 or 10 older hens coming my way early this summer from a friend who has too many.

The book is great as far as some of the information it imparts about what plants NOT to expose your chickens to, however, it does seem to be for the well-to-do urban chicken owner who can afford to spend thousands profusely landscaping their backyards.

I have two acres and most of it is bare of trees and bushes because it was, at one time, rolling fields planted in cotton or some other crop. I have no trees or other landscaping features where I plan to put my chickens - just lots and lots of open field with grass and weeds. In order to put together the kind of lush landscapes I see in this book, I'd go broke.

I do plan to implement some of the suggestions about how to plant for overhead protection from flying predators and will be planting some fruit trees and berry bushes around the coop and run that we are currently building but it won't be anything on the scale of what is pictured in this book.

Still, the pictures are gorgeous and the narrative is entertaining so I think four stars is well warranted. Like another reviewer though, I really was hoping for some suggestions on how to have happy chickens AND a pest and weed-free garden without my veggies suffering from too much chicken attention. ...more
4

Nov 09, 2015

A great book for beginners wanting to garden with free range chickens. This book is a treasure trove of information.
It gives suggestions on how to set up a garden in zones. Allowing the chickens access to each zone at different times to protect your garden. Fencing information is broken down on a chart by materials giving pros and cons.
Coop necessities, predators as well as how to fight them. Precautions to take. It also includes other farm animal information not just domesticated pets for A great book for beginners wanting to garden with free range chickens. This book is a treasure trove of information.
It gives suggestions on how to set up a garden in zones. Allowing the chickens access to each zone at different times to protect your garden. Fencing information is broken down on a chart by materials giving pros and cons.
Coop necessities, predators as well as how to fight them. Precautions to take. It also includes other farm animal information not just domesticated pets for acclimation to chickens or perhaps avoiding. Do I really want pigs on the farm if they'll eat chickens? Something to consider.
I also liked that the author does consider chickens both as possible pets only and for farmers that will raise chickens for both eggs and the stew pot. (especially if they cannot be broken from egg eating.)
The end of the book has resources of books, websites, magazines, mail-order chicks and supplies as well as mail-order for seeds and plants.
The book has a lot of visual candy of gardens and chickens. ...more
5

Apr 28, 2013

I liked this book so much, I bought a copy to use as a reference guide. Admittedly, I have not read any other books on how to raise chickens, but this book is so thorough & easy to understand, I may not need to.

The book details ideas on everything from coop design/materials,landscape design, protection from predators, composting, training chickens, solutions to common chicken problems, etc.

The most helpful part of the book, for me, was the "Plants with Purpose" chapter which lists the best I liked this book so much, I bought a copy to use as a reference guide. Admittedly, I have not read any other books on how to raise chickens, but this book is so thorough & easy to understand, I may not need to.

The book details ideas on everything from coop design/materials,landscape design, protection from predators, composting, training chickens, solutions to common chicken problems, etc.

The most helpful part of the book, for me, was the "Plants with Purpose" chapter which lists the best chicken-friendly plants. There were several examples of shelter plants, chicken-resistant plants, foraging plants, plants for fragrance, plants as noise barriers, edible plants for you & your chickens, fruit/nut trees, plants to avoid that are toxic to chickens.

Like I said, I liked it so much I bought a copy which I will be highlighting & marking every page. ...more

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